To Thank My Beautiful Mother

I am amazed at the difference a few months can make. I feel like 2010 has been and continues to be the fastest year of my life so far and one of the most pertinent to my personal growth.

I just woke up from a nap and I feel really grateful for the opportunity to catch up on sleep. This week has absolutely kicked my butt and handed it to me. Some of the activities that I lent my energy to this week were chosen (such as going out after work to catch up with friends, getting some time in at the driving range, spending time with my roommate) while others were necessary (such as filling in for one of my co-workers during my third week on the job with little instruction, introducing new changes to the way we process purchase orders, meeting with salesmen to locate and predict shipment times for parts, communicating with vendors), but in total, they were exhausting (albeit fun/exciting)!

Exhaustion now holds a very different connotation than exhaustion then. During my internship experiences (then), I was constantly exhausted. I resented work for holding me back from excitement and for stealing all of my energy; I couldn’t comprehend how anyone could log so many hours in one place and not loathe it as I did. Luckily, I made a huge effort in my last internship to be positive despite feeling stifled. I didn’t want people to know because I didn’t want to bring them down. I wanted everyone to think that I was happy and could hang in during the toughest weeks. It wasn’t easy. But it was all I had.

Now, I still feel held back (concert, travel, or outdoor opportunities have come my way since accepting this job of which I would love to have been a part), but it’s no longer stifling. I think the change in interpretation has to do with several things and has definitely been influenced by my attitude adjustment, but I think that it’s glaringly obvious that accounting did not match up with my personality or desires in any of the key ways a career must. I learned a lot during my internships with public accounting and I carry some of the structure and ways of analyzing situations with me into my new position, but in total – it just didn’t fit.

I think that was a huge drain on me during college. I wanted so badly to discover my calling (and hadn’t yet read “Just Do Something” by Kevin DeYoung). I couldn’t see past school or the roles that were held in high esteem for Grand Valley graduates with accounting degrees. I thought I was trapped and it felt hopeless. My senior year (with one left to go), I can still vividly picture it, I broke down in my little two-person condo with my boyfriend at the time bawling at the thought of being stuck in accounting for the rest of my life. He tried to assure me that it would be okay or that I could change my major if I felt stuck, as he had done himself, but I couldn’t see it. I knew I needed to graduate and I thought that graduating with accounting meant that I was going to be a public accountant. I never could’ve predicted being a production coordinator. Life has a funny way of opening your eyes and allowing you to grow in ways you hadn’t imagined.

So I went in to work today to create the necessary documents to send out some parts. I delivered them to Fedex. When I got home, I napped. I’m not angry that I couldn’t go to the Blueberry Festival with my friends (disappointed, yes – but it doesn’t set the tone of my day). I’m not mad that I wasted hours of my weekend at work and sleeping because they weren’t wasted. I’m glad the parts got out the door and I’m so grateful for caught up sleep. And I’m in no way feeling resentful.


I think that it can be difficult for people who have just met me to accept me where I am. I am an idealist when it comes to personal growth and I’m always striving to live in a more positive direction these days. But that wasn’t always the case. I spent too much time being complacent, being afraid, being angry or rude, sad and even depressed. I focused on negatives or neutrals. There’s a disconnect that exists between the two and someone who meets me now doesn’t understand that; they don’t understand how it can be very difficult to match my idealist words with my very humanly flawed actions.

And so it has been the occasion recently in the past year that people meet me and jump right on board with my quest for personal growth. I think they think they discovered a light in me that perhaps they want to share or watch develop or think is more developed than it is. It’s happened more than once now that a person has come into my life, jumped in with my progress, and ended up expecting more of me than I could give, pushing me further than I want to be pushed, and completely misjudged my situation. The thing about personal growth, it’s entirely personal. It cannot be guided with a hand from behind or led with a hand in front. It can’t even be faced arm-in-arm.

Don’t take my things and make them yours. It’s like any relationship, if you spend too much time with the other person you begin to lose sight of yourself. The saddest thing is that I thought I had learned the warnings signs, but I hadn’t. When I saw my words being picked and chosen to form this ideal image of me, I wasn’t firm enough in voicing the most important things:

  • I need to take things at my own pace.
  • I am in the midst of a growing period.
  • That growing period began in the most painful period of life that I have experienced.
  • That growing period continues; I am not there yet.
  • The pain has subsided, it has not been erased and it is still very real.

I hope that had I voiced these things with clarity in communication, I wouldn’t be in the same position as I am with these people. Their judgements and ease of communicating disappointment are mind-blowing to me. You don’t know what it’s like to be me. If I have learned anything about people, it is that we experience the same things differently. You voice your opinions and you don’t know their damaging nature or irrelevance or ignorance. You’ve no right to speak so freely about things you know little of.

Sometimes, I am convinced that my mom is the only person who understands what I have experienced and accomplished in the past year. I know this because when I try to tell her, she doesn’t respond with a similar story of her own, but she cries because she understands that she cannot understand. And I think that is the most comfort anyone can give me. Accept that you do not know and celebrate my joys with me but do not judge what you cannot know.

For that, I would like to thank my beautiful mother.

And now I'm 23.

Yesterday, I got older –  just as I am growing older now – but it was marked with a celebration of sorts. I awoke to a dirty chai latte in bed, hand delivered by my beautiful mother. She planned a day for me that included a massage, a visit to a penny candy shop, lunch at a new (to us) restaurant, and shopping before heading over to The Royal Oak Brewery to meet up with some friends of mine.

Despite the inclement weather, we made the best of the day. We trudged through wet streets, tackled detours and closed cafes, and very likely walked in and out of every store contained within the mall experiencing minimal success (I did buy a Miranda Lambert CD, however). I love her (my mother, not Miranda Lambert – well, okay, her too but you know what I mean).

And now I’m 23. Twenty three years old. It’s a good reminder that Proverbs 19:21 will be a constant in my life: “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Amen. None of the projections from my youth would’ve led me here. Funny thing is, none of my worries would’ve either. Makes projecting and worrying seem just a little more futile, doesn’t it?

Yes, the futility of worry. It’s something that I am all too familiar with and yet must continue to fight against. Here’s a strange question: Do you ever find yourself refusing to worry but then feel so lost without it that you slip into a state of inaction? I wonder sometimes if all I’ve done by refusing to worry is…just that. Rather than replace the time I would’ve spent worrying with something productive, I just cease to worry. “Live and let live.” “Roll with the punches.” “Don’t bother yourself with that.” “C’est le vie.” “Take it in stride.” “Just let it go.”

I have adopted a ton of passive phrases lately which have honestly helped me to be more upbeat, worry less, and overlook little things that I would’ve previously made into big things – but what I’m missing now are action verbs. I think it hit me today that my lack of worry hasn’t given way to productivity. There has to be more effort than merely ceasing one thing to begin another. I had imagined that once I cleared my life of the negatives, the positives would take over. But it would appear that I have miscalculated just a touch. Missed one step along the way. It’s easy to think in theory that life would work out in such a way but it’s unrealistic in application. And, worse yet, the inaction makes it a lot easier to revert to the known – the worry, the stress, the frustration over things not working out the way I wanted.

So what to do next? I need to figure out what I want and what it will take to get me there. Is this the natural progression? Live in the now to get comfortable looking at the future with an honest eye? Let’s recap:

(1) Enjoy living in the now.

(2) Act spontaneously.

(3) Embrace the unknown.

Okay. I like this. And I don’t think planning for my future actions negates my mantra. Enjoy living in the now – Appreciate each day for what it is. Take the good with the bad. Find moments to cherish daily. Nothing about the future, which means against the future either. So what to take from this? Well, I will not live today for some relief tomorrow. I will live today for today and tomorrow for tomorrow.

Simple things really – but are they? How many times have you been told “It’s just for a year or two.” I was talking with a friend the other day and thankfully we were both hit by the absurdity of that statement. Since when has life been something to get through? It’s as if we tell ourselves “I can forgo these years of my life for the vague hope of some future pay-off.”

…*Ahem* Excuse me while I nervously clear my throat …

What?! The thing of it is (ha), there are no guarantees in life! Two years from now, you’ll find yourself projecting again into some future happiness. It’s inevitable in this day and age; we are taught to continuously look for the next upgrade, edition, etc. But that’s not something we ought to apply to our lives. Enjoy living in the now! Enjoy the planning? Yes. Enjoy planning. And do plan! Wait…does doing so negate step 2?

Step 2: Act spontaneously. Planning doesn’t sound very spontaneous. Okay, but why is this my mantra? Because I’ve planned every little detail of my life in a stifling manner? No. Because I’m afraid to step out and take risks. Because I over think and acting spontaneously doesn’t allow time for that. Because it’s a whole lot of fun! So I brought this into my mantra because I need more of it in my life, not only it. In its original context, it’s “act” not “live” spontaneously. Living it – wouldn’t that be a feat? It would become such a difficult task that I would end up planning to be spontaneous! How contradictory. So I need to act spontaneously. I need to say “Yes!” to the things I want to do but am afraid for fear of not succeeding…but I can’t stop planning. I need to redefine the way I plan. Plan for the things that I want and plan in time to jump at opportunities (Sound like planned spontaneity? Sure, whatever…but it fits me. And as Gretchen Rubin (author of The Happiness Project) would attest, that’s a good thing!). Have a plan. But have a malleable plan. A plan with options. A plan that doesn’t unravel me in the event that it itself unravels before me. Be capable of redirecting, -defining, and -routing. Spontaneity, right?

Embrace the unknown. Well, as if that isn’t every day? I think I’ve argued my point. But as most writers (I’d imagine) do, I’ve now analyzed every aspect of this “Ah-ha” moment without actually doing anything about it. Damn. Rewind. I need to figure out what I want and what it will take to get me there.

  • I want to live in Grand Rapids.
    • I have a house that I’m waiting on and waiting on and waiting on. Give me an action verb. I need to give a week deadline and move elsewhere if the house isn’t ready by then. No one’s fault. No hard feelings. Just necessity. Making what I want a reality. Verb? COMMUNICATE.
  • I want to organize my things.
    • I mean, I’m living between a garage, basement, room, and vehicle – none of which are my intended permanent residences. Excuses? YES! But they’re terribly valid. Regardless, let’s get it together. Action verb? ORGANIZE.
  • That wretched, wretched paper.
    • Okay, so it doesn’t really fit in this list because I have never not wanted to do something as much as I have not wanted to complete this paper. It’s boring to me. FIN 48: The Financial Interpretation of the Accounting Standard Related to the Uncertainty of Income Taxes as Reported in Financial Statements and Its Effect on Grand Rapids Businesses. ZzZzZ…Sorry, what was I saying? Ugh, I am in desperate need of an action verb here. Or a plan. Or motivation. Anything! …Anything? …This one evades me. I’ll come back to it at a later date.
  • I want a career direction.
    • Corporate accounting? Accounting in a way that it helps me to meet non-profit goals? Non-profit graduate program? Non-profit career without the graduate program? Writing? Graduate program for writing? I need to narrow these down. How do I narrow these down? I need to sit down with my advisor. But I’m terrified to do that without having completed my paper. Hmph. Perhaps that’s my action plan. Ew. I was hoping I could get away with that one for longer. Verb? I’m annoyed to even type this: WRITE.

My list could go on for pages and pages but that’s a good immediate start. And that’s where I’ll leave it in an attempt to turn word (even action verbs) into action. [Side note: A big fear of mine is writing about the same things over and over. I feel like I’ve touched on this list before and my inability to act. But I suppose that’s the story of life. We often find ourselves on the hamster wheel. Revisiting old steps. Wish me luck.]

“Good Life” One Republic